Original Site, Prior to Installation

cognitive garden

About Annette Montoya

Annette MontoyaAnnette with her glass mosaic masterpieceSafety first for Annette's dog LuciAnnette's IDEA Grant Bio

Planning stages, early Fall 2018

Measuring the site for the crab labyrinth, Fall 2018Envisioning the crab climbing up the hill . Fall 2018Paper layout of amphitheater (early version)Mary working the puzzleWorking out an early version of paper layout for labyrinthAdding humans for scale!

Breaking Ground, March 2019

Dig in! Official groundbreaking of the gardenSite is spraypainted, with water storage modules set in place for sizingEdging and digging along spray painted linesRob Townsend demontstrating edging techniqueTruckload of boulders arrivesStudents from Grasso Tech digging the tiers of the falls along with their teacher, Larry FritchRob Townsend checks the depth of exacavtionEdging the fallsChecking the depth of the excavationStudent levels one of the tiers of the waterfallMore edgingRob Townsend and students spreading membraneSpreading out linerRob Townsend fits liner to pre-dug holeSetting liner in placeSetting rocks in place

Waterford High School, Making Mosaics

Waterford High School Art Teacher Shelley Concasia in action!Waterford High School students working on their mosaics. These will be attached to pavers that will create the walking paths of the labyrinth.Students creating their mosaics.Students working on their mosaicsMore mosaics created by Waterford High School StudentsStudent applying thin set to back of tileTwo students working on their mosaicsA student places his tilesStudents working on their mosaicsA student breaks tiles which will be used in his mosaicStudents working on their mosaics

Something About Mary Ballachino

Mary demos for students at Nathan Hales Arts Magnet School in New London.Mary working with students at NHAMSMary, with Art Teacher Jeff Wolfson, checking out student designsMary putting the finishing touches on a jellyfish mosaic.Mary dressed the part as she broke hundreds of tiles for use by NHAMS students.Mary with Tucson Mosaic Artist Aureleo RosanoHammer time! Annette and Mary, what a team.

The Giving Garden

Annette rolls back sod to reveal the clean edge cut by Burnetts LandscapingMary gladly takes a photo op break from rolling sod.The Dream Team, at it again!View of the amphitheater excavationClose-up of the amazing work done by Butler ExcavationAmazing work on the labyrinth done by Butler ExcavationStone aggregate delivery by Lombardi Sand and Gravel

Scout The Berm Whale and The Boy Scouts Who Shaped Him

Annette explains what needs to be done for the dayAnnette rallies the troops for their assignment!Scouts load up wheelbarrows with aggregate for the labyrinthScouts load wheelbarrows with aggregate base layer for labyrinthScouts look on while aggregate layer is compactedMany wheelbarrow loads built up a 6-inch aggregate baseMore wheelbarrow loads!Tamping another layer of aggregatePizza break!Excavated Soil from the labyrinth and amphitheater was dumped onsite, then tamped into shapeMore tamping!Still tamping!Tale of Berm Whale is shaped and lined with rocksTail of Berm Whale is covered with sod after soiled has been compacted into shapeSome of the Scout Work CrewMary and Annette pleased with all that was accomplished!Scout leaders convened to cut down some donated cedar trees. Logs will form the seating in the amphitheater.Branches removed from the cedar trees will be interwoven to form fencing in the garden.

More on the Mosaics

Shelly and Jeff groutingAddie, Shelly, and Jeff groutingAddie grouting a mosaicJeff Wolfson grouting a mosaicGrouting — Work in progressAnother work in progressFirst grout clean-upAddie moving on to grout the next mosaicShelly and Mary busy at workShelly and Mary grouting more mosaicsmosaicsGrouting - work in progressMore grouted mosaics

Waterford HS Mosaics

Sea turtle mosaicDolphin mosaicShell mosaicMoon jelly mosaicSeagull mosaicWave mosaicBeach umbrellasSeashell mosaicBlack octopus mosaicFish mosaicSeahorse mosaicSun on water mosaicRed octopus mosaicLighthouse mosaicWave mosaicBlue lobster mosaicAnchor mosaicRed sun with boat mosaicHammerhead shark mosaicBeach mosaicRed crab mosaicAnchor mosaicSeal mosaicStarfish mosaicWHS student mosaicLighthouse mosaicDolphin mosaicBeach scene mosaicLighthouse mosaicLighthouse mosaicSea plants mosaicSun mosaicBeach scene mosaicSun mosaicSnail mosaicJellyfish mosaicSailboat mosaicPatterned mosaicBeach umbrella mosaicFishies-in-love mosaicWhale tail mosaicJellyfish diptych mosaicAngel fish with coral mosaicSea otters mosaicSeagrass mosaic


A Nod to Sod

Annette with rolls and rolls of sod!A dreary day for placement of the 240 plants donated by Judges Farm of Old Lyme.A cold, dreary day could not stop these intrepid gardeners! Annette, Jamie, Petie picturedEntrance to the gardenAnother view of the garden entrance, with path marked and loosenedAnnette and Luci smiling at the end of a sod-rolling sessionBefore: The dirt patch left by tarps/dumpstersAfter my "mosaic" of sod pieces


Nathan Hale Arts Magnet School Mosaics (pre-grout)

"Pentapus" NHAMS Mosaic, pregroutNHAMS octopus mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS shark mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS starfish/fish mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mermaid mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS seascape mosaic, pregroutNHAMS fish mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS seaweed mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS shell mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS seascape mosaic, pregroutNHAMS dolphin and starfish mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS Mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS boat/whale mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregroutNHAMS mosaic, pregrout


Everything Will Be OK

Annette’s panic moment: is the edging tall enough for sand and pavers?!Dean making sure the labyrinth is level and ready for more aggregate and tampingCharlie assesses how many more wheelbarrow loads of aggregate are needed. (Answer: a lot!)Meanwhile, Annette widens and edges the pathway to prep for aggregate baseWork on the path and labyrinth continuesGetting there!Tiffany digging out the pathwayAnnette, Mary and Luci—happy at the end of a chilly day, pathway aggregate tamped in the backgroundPathway, edged and widened to 4 feetProud Mary with Jacob, and tamped labyrinth looking like a tabletop!

A-Mazing Labyrinth Making

Jacob uses a screed board to level the sand in the edging channel while Charlie checks the fit of a paverLuLu providing periodic therapy for Jacob throughout the edging processCharlie and Jacob working the puzzlePaver and edgingCharlie getting the spacing just rightJacob adding mason’s sand to the pathwayJacob using a screed board to level the sandJacob using a screed board to level the sandSlowly but surely the edging continues to shape the pathwayLabyrinth beginning to take shape!Jacob cuts edging while Charlie figures out the next piece of the puzzleAlmost in the home stretch . . .Setting the sight line for the last length of edgingThe last piece of the puzzle! Note the big smiles on the faces of Jacob and CharlieVoila! The labyrinth is edged!Charlie and Jacob admire their hard work and a job well doneJacob and Charlie, a great teamMeanwhile, Annette acquires a carload of donated grasses from Pride’s Corner in Lebanon, CTLulu looking a little put out about sharing space with plantsBeautiful rocks for the waterfall donated by Construction Materials Inc. in North LebanonWhat a trove to choose from!

Coast Guard/Pfizer Volunteer Day

Jeff hand-tamps any aggregate that was loosened during the edging process. Now ready for Coast Guard volunteers to help carry pavers over!Jeff laying the pavers into sand baseCordell transferring a paver to the labyrinth siteSpencer, part of the paver brigadeLots more pavers to go!Lulu always willing to lend a pawHow many more pavers??Almost there, guys!Planting, edging, laying paversLast bunch of pavers!Jeff and CG Jacob set the final paver in placeJeff happily setting the final paverThe completed labyrinth pathway ready for WHS mosaicsLots of thumbs up from the Jacob, Andrew, Cordell, and SpencerElizabeth planting perennials in the meadowAndrew planting perennial grasses in the meadow near the waterfallMichelle planting perennials in the meadowMaster Gardener Shannon and Annette checking the plantingThe Pfizer Team: Jeff, Michelle, Sharon, Anna, Andrew, Wen, and ElizabethAnnette and Andrew laying out plantsThumbs up to Annette’s directionsAnna planting in the meadowPfizer Planting CrewMichelle and Elizabeth planting in the meadowSharon hard at workMichelle planting away!Wen digging a planting holeSupervisor LuciGretchen, Assistant SupervisorCoast Guard volunteers extraordinaire: Cynthia, Tiffany, and KamekoA little rain won't stop the loading/hauling of aggregate to the pathwayHauling aggregate to the pathwayMeanwhile, Jeff dIgs out the crab claws of the labyrinthAnnette digs out the crab claws of the labyrinthAndrew and Cordell leveling the aggregateDayna and Cynthia still smiling while they workCynthia, Kameko, and Dayna digging out the pathway

A “Hole” Lot of Dirt

Christian preps a load of sand to haul uphill to the site of the rowboatSmall but mighty!Watering the plantsNavigating the labyrinthMore hugs for LuluPlaying in the waterfallGarden visitor checking out the waterfallA little dirt never hurt anyoneExploring in the waterfallLovin' LuluGetting ready to plant around the waterfallPlanting around the waterfallGrasso Tech students stop by to check on the progress in the gardenSupervisor Luci, making sure the digging is done rightAnnette, happy at work in the gardenProud mama and daughterTiffany and daughters pose after a hard day’s work

Field Trip Fun

Students greeting Luci in the gardenStudents in the sand pit area awaiting their instructions!Teacher Jeff Wolfson outlines the day aheadEnjoying a snack in the shadeStudents atop Scout the Whale bermMary talks with a student artist about the mosaicsUp the granite outcropping. . . and down the granite outcroppingStudents in front of some of their mosaicsStudent enjoys a huggable piece of artStudents enjoy interacting with art on a scavenger huntIt’s a beautiful day for an Art Walk!Observation deck along the Art WalkThe scavenger hunt continues along the Art WalkAaahhh . . .The scavenger hunt continues . . .

Go Navy!

Navy work crew busy at workMaking that aggregate pile disappear!Overview of amphitheater and waterfallOverview of path and labyrinthNavy volunteers moving aggregate to the pathLots more aggregate to haul to the path!Loosening up compacted planted bedCrab legs, dug out and prepped for concreteCrab legs filled with aggregateA big pile of aggregate to move!Raking aggregate into gridsRaking aggregate into gridsDigging out crab legsDigging out crab legsDigging out the sailboat areaStabilizing the sailboatSailboat site dug outStabilizing front of boat with a 2x6 boardStabilizing rear of the boat with a 2x6 boardMary with the Navy crew

It Looks Like A Crab!

Jacob and Christian edge the claws and legs with The Beast edging.Edging tacked in place, ready for the concrete pourOverview of edged claws and legsThe closest legs can be filled right from the truckHere comes the concrete!Getting ready to haul concrete up the hillTwo by two, wheelbarrows are filled with concreteCharlie directing the pourCharlie moving the poured concrete as more arrivesCharlie and Mary moving the concrete into placeDean troweling the concrete to a smooth finishDean looking like a pro!Meanwhile, excavation for the sailboat continuesSailboat sited and ready for some imaginative playMeanwhile, Dean and four sailors work the left clawCharlie fighting gravity, as concrete slides downhillDean smoothing the concrete "cream"The awesome Navy crew!Mary and Annette in front of the crab labyrinthWe made a crab!

Reflection on the IDEA Grant

The pollinator garden in late springPlanting day at the labyrinthPlanting herbs in the labyrinthPlanting herbs in the labyrinthThe labyrinth June 2019Meadow in bloomAnnette positioning sprinklers for the summerAnnette adjusting sprinklers for the labyrinth/upper waterfallMilkweed, echinacea in bloom in the meadowBee balm in full bloomBee balm in the pollinator gardenAnnette positioning the sprinklers in the meadow

The Amphitheater Colors the Garden

Jeff helps with the paver edgingEdged spokes of the amphitheater wheelPavers in place and ready for mosaicsAmphitheater ready for crushed shellsGrasso Tech students helping with the shells and meadow pathwayGrasso Tech student tamping and digging meadow pathwayGrasso Tech students placing crushed shells in the amphitheaterFinished amphitheater!Finished amphitheater!

Flying High — Drone Photos

Aerial view of the garden, looking toward Field HouseAerial overview of the gardenAerial overview of the gardenAerial view of the crab-shaped labyrinthAerial view of the crab-shaped labyrinth in more detailAerial view of the garden, looking toward Thames River

One Step Further

The massive bolder pile!BouldersBoulders situated before moss plantingThe stone walkway from sidewalk to sandpitAnother view of the rocks and mossStone walkway with sandpit on rightStone walkway with moss plantingHypnum moss detailStone walkway, with moss plantings, rises from the sand pit, with cedar fence and blueberry bushes in the background